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Why Media Training Is Important In Business

Updated on August 6, 2013

In an age where news breaks in real time across the globe, consumers are as media savvy as ever and the UK press are on the hunt for the next corporate slaying, having media trained staff has never been so important for British business. From SMEs to multinational corporations, the difference between having and not having media trained staff can be drastic. Here is why media training is so important in business today.

1. Crisis Response

When news breaks or a potential crisis rapidly comes to fruition there is often no time to draft and rehearse an interview for media. What is needed is a fast, deliberate response that will not leave your company appearing out-of-touch or incredible in the aftermath of the crisis.

Staff with media training will have already mastered interview techniques; they will understand how to speak to news corporations and will be able to deliver a clear, reassuring message to a relevant audience. Without media training, however, staff may find themselves either panicking or making statements or predictions the company later come to regret.

2. Public Relations

The most obvious benefit of media training for any business is the improvement of public relations. Spokespeople and executives who are able to converse naturally in front of the camera whilst delivering a clear company message will portray their company in a professional, credible light.

Moreover, being able to understand a situation, take the limelight and use the publicity to benefit a company is an extremely valuable skill most untrained spokespeople and executives simply do not have. Media training teaches staff how to master this skill and make any publicity good publicity.

3. Editorial vs. Advertisement

Media training also allows staff to understand the differences between an editorial interview (whether it is for Television, radio or print) and an advertising piece. Whilst the latter permits bias and certain degree of outright persuasion, speaking on a news or factual programme demands far more subtlety.

In addition, knowing the business and the area on which you are speaking is essential for an editorial piece, particularly if there is any element of debate. If you or your staff are not completely comfortable with the subject or topic they are likely to quickly become unravelled or off balance. This will not reflect well upon the company.

4. Team Building

On a slightly more abstract note, media training courses can often be viewed as a corporate away day. A team of managers or colleagues attempting to overcome the difficulties and challenges involved with speaking in front of a lens are likely to bond over their combined efforts. Many companies use this to their advantage, killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.

5. Social Media

Finally, comprehensive media training courses now incorporate social media training as part of their curriculum. The benefits of social media training warrant their own article alone and in fact, there is a great deal of content published in journals and on the net on the benefits of a social media savvy company.

In brief, however, social media is a powerful and cost effective way of marketing a company. It can also be particularly dangerous if used without careful thought or consideration. Providing your company access to millions of potential customers, social media is certainly a tool to be used with caution.

What Not To Do When Facing The Media

In the UK, as is the case in many countries, the press aren’t exactly renowned for being forgiving or lenient. One slip, a display of perceived weakness or an off-hand comment can quickly be pounced on by a journalist looking to make the next headline. What is more, in the current economic climate, both media outlets and the government are constantly searching for the next scapegoat or the next corporation to out and fell.

As such, it has never been so important for UK businesses to have media savvy staff and spokespeople. The phrase ‘all publicity is good publicity’ may hold for Z-list celebrities but it certainly does not for business. Staffs must be trained and prepared to face the media or a company is at risk of being portrayed in a potentially detrimental light. Before any member of staff goes on record, in front of a lens or to an interview, present them with these five things to avoid when facing the media.

1. Get worked up

Perhaps the most important thing to remember in any interview is that you must remain calm. Even if the interviewer is baiting or pushing you in ways that make you uncomfortable, getting worked up will only reflect poorly on yourself and your company.

2. Invent, fabricate or downright lie

If a question is asked that you do not know the answer to never guess or invent an answer. Not only will you look foolish if the interviewer or another member of the panel knows better, you could land your company in hot water at a later date.

To avoid this issue, preparation is absolutely essential as is discussed in point 5.

3. Use jargon

The majority of those listening to you, including the interviewer, are unlikely to be industry experts. Using jargon confuses listeners, dilutes your company’s message and makes you appear distant and awkward. Avoid it at all costs.

4. Take in notes

Never take notes into an interview. Not only do they rustle, they make you look ill-prepared and unprofessional. Moreover, with notes you are likely to be constantly looking down and up, which will look unnatural on a television screen.

5. Fail to prepare

Preparation is absolutely vital for any media interview. This includes studying the subject upon which you are going to speak until you are an expert, able to respond concisely and eloquently to any difficult questions. In addition, preparation includes how you present yourself; something incredibly important on television. You should be tidy, presentable and well-kept, avoiding busy patterns or very bright colours. Judge your audience carefully and dress accordingly or risk ruining your chances before you even begin the interview.

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